Damn…I’m ‘A Bad Dude’ Too!

“I’m in fear for my life!”jboney-speaks-terence-crutcher

This is usually the phrase you hear from members of law enforcement in response to any officer-involved shooting which typically leads to someone being severely wounded or killed.

However, over the last several years, Black people have increasingly been using this phrase more and more, especially as it relates to our interactions and dealings with members of law enforcement in this country. To be honest, it has become extremely frightening.

As the fallout continues over the heinous and cold-blooded murder of unarmed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, OK, people are becoming increasingly more fed up with the blatant disregard of Black lives by members of law enforcement in this country. This past Monday, the Tulsa Police Department released video footage, which shows Terence walking back to his stalled SUV with both of his hands raised in the air, while Officer Betty Shelby, who is White, and Officer Tyler Turnbough, who is White, followed closely behind with weapons drawn. As Terence approached his vehicle, still with his hands in the air, Officer Turnbough deployed his Taser on him and then Officer Shelby unloaded a single shot into him that killed Terence – all while his hands were still in the air. All of this happened while a police helicopter circled above the scene recording the incident on video, and then you hear police officers, one who happens to be Officer Shelby’s husband, talking about Crutcher as if he is somehow a suspect.

One of the officers in the helicopter then can be heard saying “Time for a Taser,” and then says, “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”

Looks like ‘a bad dude’…WTH?!? Keep in mind, no crime had been reported or committed.

Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, denounced the actions of the officers and demanded that charges be filed against them immediately. Tiffany said:

“The big bad dude was my twin brother. That big bad dude was a father,” she said. “That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud. That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.”

What happened to Terence was murder and it saddens me that people refuse to see this has become an all-too-common occurrence that Black people want to stop. It is incidents like this that motivate me to continue bringing awareness to this travesty of justice, whereby this innocent and unarmed Black man, who was simply on his way home from a local community college trying to better his life and family, was executed by a cold-hearted, premeditated murderer with a gun and a badge.

I have two daughters and a son and my heart not only grieves this man’s family, but there is such a righteous indignation within me that keeps me focused on demanding justice where justice is due for this man’s family and others like him. I fit the same description of Terence Crutcher.

Every day I wake up big and Black, and I look like ‘a bad dude’ in the eyes of many people, regardless of what I have accomplished and what I am doing with my life. If our people can be senselessly executed by members of law enforcement without having even a shred of evidence or proof of wrongdoing, what has our country become? This is sickening!

Whether driving while Black or walking down the street while Black or having a stalled vehicle in the middle of the road while Black, our skin color has caused us to be targeted and stereotyped more than any other races of people in the United States. This has got to stop! Black people are not target practice and should not have to walk around with a bull’s eye on their back because of the color of their skin. We, as Black people, are constantly stereotyped, harassed, and in this case and many others, murdered because of the color of our skin. Whether you refuse to acknowledge it or not, it is the truth. History shows us there has been a tremendous element of risk that Black people have faced when it comes to dealing with law enforcement. There has been a consistent pattern in society, and in the mainstream media, of Blacks being viewed as the guilty aggressor, while Whites are typically viewed as “not guilty” and focused on protecting themselves when they carry firearms. The overarching perception amongst many people in society is that Blacks are overly aggressive criminals, who are inherently up to no good. This is extremely concerning, especially when Blacks run the risk of being identified as criminals to law enforcement officials, despite not breaking any laws.

An innocent, unarmed man was murdered and that’s not ok, America. That is a problem. One of the things that police brutality does is highlight the continuous disconnect between Whites and Blacks in this country. Truth be told, the Civil Rights Act only put a Band-Aid on the underlying racial tension, as well as the devaluing and disregard of Black life that has always existed in this country since inception. The question is, however, when will non-Black people choose to really deal with it?

Many Black people have a deep level of mistrust and a lack of confidence in law enforcement and the justice system. Many White people that I’ve spoken to can’t relate and don’t understand why this is an issue for us, because as they see it, there is nothing wrong with our fine members of law enforcement. The heinous and immoral practices of racial profiling and police brutality have been going on for generations, and there have been many lost souls who have died from these immoral practices. Black people, especially young Black men, have always been the subject of attacks in America, and I don’t want any more of us to have to die, before this epidemic is truly dealt with. This radical culture of racial profiling and police brutality must be eradicated indefinitely, so that the Black fatalities we have seen will not be in vain.

It is truly my hope that the addition of the most recent member of the undesirable hashtag homicide community, Terence Crutcher, will light a fire under people in America to bring serious attention to this issue, while bringing everyone, regardless of race, together in solidarity to help others who have or could possibly suffer the same fate if things don’t quickly change.

We, as people – no matter what color – must not let this moment pass us by.

Back in the day, Black folks were lynched and abused by their oppressors, while many White observers would merely stand by and watch – saying nothing and doing nothing to stop it. Their silence was worse than them having committed the acts themselves. Fast forward to 2016, and we see Black people being harassed and murdered by police and many non-Black observers are still standing by and watching. Their silence, in 2016, is still far worse than them committing the acts themselves.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com.